“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”

- The History Boys by Alan Bennett

I've put myself in the difficult position of competing with a British playwright, so whatever I write next will inevitably be a disappointment, but please bear with me.

Every night when I was a kid I fell asleep listening to stories on audio cassette tapes. They could range from "The Hobbit" to insect detective whodunits (yes). Whether revisiting an older piece of theatre or developing a new one - I strive to enter storytelling with the open pleasure I had when I was a kid who had to reach out from my bed and turn the tape over to hear the ending. This feeling goes hand in hand with integrity, humor, and a generosity of spirit which are important to me in workrooms and work.

Outside of theatre and music, I enjoy failing at comedy writing, learning about fairy tale origins, and smelling candles that I do not intend to buy.  I was born in Texas to two New Yorkers and raised in Maryland. You'll have to tell me if it shows.

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In this time of COVID I've rediscovered my sewing machine, my dormant cooking skills, and what material I'm comfortable working on in earshot of my boyfriend.  Working out comedic material can be quite vulnerable without an audience. I can laugh at myself but it's harder to laugh with myself. That may sound a little corny, so gird up because this will too - I've also learned better, in a small way, about history. What a letter means, what a book means, what a small act of kindness means. This is the time that I am reading, some for the first time, classics (though can't we just call them books?) to feel more violently their character's isolation and connection - themes that are rampant in 'classic literature' but feel closer now than before.  I'm keeping mainly to the women (albeit white ladies) because lord I am thirsty for their ideas and for their hands coming out and taking mine. And the words are hard so it helps my brain keep braining.

I hope you are safe and supported. And that you can find a "best moment in reading" a la Alan Bennett many times during 2020.

- Judith

 

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